April - July 2020 Vintages Releases + A Few More

16 Jul 2020

Since there are no Vintages tastings at the LCBO head office these days, I must rely on what comes to the door for my tasting notes … These are the bottles I recommend that were released, from April through July, that are still available (as of publication) at LCBO stores. At the very bottom you will also see a list of wines from the general list … those wines are available all the time, and in some cases, online.

JULY 2020

El EstecoEl Esteco 2017 Malbec
$21.95 – Argentina – LCBO 113191 … (July 25, 2020)
The most impressive part of this wine is its finish: coffee bean dipped in dark chocolate (without the crunch and grit that follows) add that to the blue and black berry fruit, the smoky-mocha middle and the silky tannins and you have yourself a really tasty bottle of Malbec.  (****)

Errazuriz 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Aconcagua Alto
$21.95 – Chile – LCBO 203364 … (July 25, 2020)
This wine starts off as a pure minty endeavour and continues very much in that vein from nose to palate; there is some red fruit notes, soft tannins and an easy drinkability here but there is a slightly candied note that emerges with all that minty-ness.  (***+)

Gerard Bertrand 2019 Terroir PicPoul de Pinet
$17.95 – France – LCBO 13000 … (July 25, 2020)
This is a funny little bottle of wine, it’s like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling had a baby and created this floral noted, grapefruit laced wine with a mineral kick.  (*** ½)

Gerard Bertrand 2018 Viognier Reserve Speciale
$14.95 – France – LCBO 147975 … (July 25, 2020)
Viognier is one of those grape varieties you gotta get to know because of its variety of styles, in its purest form is a white fruit delight and this Gerard Bertrand delivers: refreshing with light pear, peach and lemon curd, there is also a nice hit of mineral/stony that is balanced with great acidity. This is tasty and made for summer weather.  (*** ½+)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2018 Chardonnay
$19.95 – Washington – LCBO 232439 … (July 11, 2020)
The oak seems a little more restrained on this vintage of this popular wine from Washington’s biggest producer. Soft and delicate by comparison with apple and a touch of butterscotch, there’s also some pear and peach that creeps in on the mid-palate where the creaminess seems to be balanced off with subtle acidity.  (*** ½+)

Frescobaldi 2016 Tenuta Pereno Chianti ClassicoFrescobaldi Pereno
$24.95 – Italy – LCBO 10360 … (July 11, 2020)
This wine follows along with what the 2016 vintage in Tuscany delivered to the region (and the country), lots of dark fruit, violet, tobacco and mocha that ends with a little spiced-dark chocolate. This wine should age 10 years with ease in your cellar and you should look at starting to drink this about 2021-2022.  (****)

Perceval 2018 Chateau la Gentilhommiere Abymes
$17.95 – France – LCBO 14956 … (July 11, 2020)
A white wine made from the Jacquere grape, found primarily in the Savoy region of France; there’s apple blossom and lemon curd on the nose, while the palate has a creaminess that seems to fight with, and win out over, the acidity, but it’s the mineral-salty-flinty finish that is most intriguing, not to discount the floral and unripe honeydew melon on the mid-palate.  (***+)

Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut Reserve
$18.95 – France – LCBO 388603 … (July 25, 2020)
This Pinot Blanc based sparkler is a real delight to just sit and sip on, pear and citrus meet some apple and they form a creaminess on the palate, while the crisp acidity balance – this one is very easily “crushable”.  (*** ½)

Vale D Maria 2017 Rufo Douro Red
$17.95 – Portugal – LCBO 14437 … (July 11, 2020)
Rich red from the Douro Valley, quite expected may I add, there’s lots of blackberry, plum, and black cherry, along with delicate spice and vanilla – tannins are relatively soft and the alcohol is a pretty big 15%.  (*** ½+)

JUNE 2020

Invivo Wines 2019 X, by Sarah Jessica Parker Sauvignon BlancInvivo SJP SB
$22.95 – New Zealand – LCBO 14278 … (June 27, 2020)
This is a “ripe” style of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which seems to forgo the usual grassy notes and brightens things up with tropical fruit, yellow grapefruit and a fresh, long finish – there’s even a hint of pith to keep that tropical note from leaning too heavily on the sweet side.  (*** ½+)

Trapiche 2016 Gran Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon
$26.95 – Argentina – LCBO 13608 … (June 27, 2020)
Aged in oak for 18 months this Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in the Uco Valley, is rich on dark fruit and layers in white smoke, hints of pepper smoked meat, blackberry, mocha, black cherry and there is even a floral element. There are also soft silky tannins and a lovely note of coffee bean on the finish; and all that is with this wine just in its "youth", if you’re willing to wait a few years for it to fully develop you'll be in for an even greater surprise. Drink: 2020-2027.  (****+)

Domaine La Decelle 2017 Reserve ValreasDomaine La Decelle
$17.00 – France – LCBO 14391 … (June 13, 2020)
I’m a fan of Rhone Valley wines that over-deliver, and the good news is that many of them do, but when a wine like this Decelle comes along I get even happier, and here’s why: This Cote du Rhone Villages is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah and just provides an explosion of fruit on both the nose and in the mouth: spiced-plum, black cherry, blackberry and pomegranate; there’s even a hint of mineral and spicy pepper in the finish. The tannins are at odds being both silky and biting, depending on the sip, showing that this wine has the ability to cellar for another 5-7 years.  (****+)

Peter Lehmann 2018 The Barossan Shiraz
$21.95 – Australia – LCBO 522235 … (June 13, 2020)
Pretty typical with the juicy, jammy nature of Barossa Shiraz, lots of impressive red fruit and hints of vanilla – and if you like that style of Shiraz this is your wine.  (***+)

Ruffino 2015 Reserva Ducale Oro Gran Selezione Chianti ClassicoRuffino Gran Selezione
$47.95 – Italy – LCBO 353201 … (June 13, 2020)
Gran Selezione is a new classification meant to denote the most premium Chianti Classico wines. The wine can only be made with fruit from the winery’s own vineyards and has to be aged for 30 months. Red berries and spices with cherry and licorice, nice nicely, firm tannins and a long lingering finish. Not a wine for the faint of heart or for immediate gratification, you need to give this one a few more years in bottle.  (****)

MAY 2020

Chateau La Croix de Queynac 2016 Bordeaux SuperioreQueynac
$16.95 – France – LCBO 138636 … (May 30, 2020)
Bargain Bordeaux and quality Bordeaux don’t always go together, but this under $17 version hits both marks: nice spice right off the top with lots of dark fruit and smoke; there’s also some mocha, coffee bean and black cherry notes with good mouthfeel and a nice underlying structure that will have you drinking this one from now to 2027 … with pleasure.  (****)

Chateau De Nages 2015 JT White
$26.95 – France – LCBO 485854 … (May 16, 2020)
This wine shows vanilla, and spice right off the top - but it’s the acidity that comes to the rescue. Apple and tropical fruit will have you coming back for more. Don’t think too hard about this one – just enjoy.  (*** ½+)

Baron de Hoen 2018 Reserve Riesling
$16.95 – France – LCBO 446427 … (May 2, 2020)
A soft and subtler version of Riesling than what we are used to in Ontario bottlings, this one has an almost creamy note but with nice minerality and some Mac apple fruit.  (*** ½)

La Crema 2016 Chardonnay, Saralee’s Vineyard
$54.99 – California – LCBO 14835 … (May 2, 2020)
For a California Chardonnay this has things I don’t always expect: good acidity – but those telltale signs of butter/butterscotch and vanilla plus peach and apple cobbler and a nice spiced finish.  (*** ½+)

APRIL 2020

Kutjevo 2018 GrasevinaKutjevo
$15.95 – Croatia – LCBO 519074 … (April 18, 2020)
Made from 100% Grasevina, a highly-planted grape in Croatia - this is fresh and summertime in a glass with fresh grapefruit pith and lively acidity from beginning to end, you’ll also find some green apple and melon rind bitterness, but it is all balanced out so well. This was really a pleasant surprise.  (*** ½+)

Bodegas LAN 2016 Crianza
$16.95 – Spain – LCBO 166538 … (April 1, 2020)
Red fruit forward, but still with those sour fruit notes Rioja wines are known for: black currant / cassis, mocha and sour cherry all play a role here.  (*** ½)

J Lohr 2018 Riverstone Chardonnay
$19.95 – California – LCBO 258699 … (April 1, 2020)
There is a drawback to this wine, it’s the plastic cork, so that means you will need to drink within the next 2 years, but otherwise the wine inside is quite tasty with notes of mineral, vanilla, pear and even some pineapple; its generous and mouth-filling with hints of delicate spice on the finish – but again don’t hold this wine for any length of time ... that plastic cork is a killer of wines.  (****)

J Lohr 2017 Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
$23.95 – California – LCBO 656561 … (April 1, 2020)
Look, J Lohr doesn’t need my help to sell anymore wine in Ontario, but if you are looking to score a bottle that will deliver on that California (via Paso Robles) goodness of juicy black fruit mixed with red fruit and mocha - then you have found it.  (*** ½)

Rocca Delle Macie 2018 Chianti ClassicoRocca delle Macie CC
$18.95 – Italy – LCBO 741769 … (April 1, 2020)
A highly drinkable and approachable Chianti from 2018 (a decent vintage in Tuscany) it delivers all the right notes you expect from a Classico: dark fruit, balsamic good tannin structure, with power yet shows elegance. This Chianti does not disappoint.  (*** ½+)  

Rocca delle Macie 2016 Chianti Riserva
$15.95 – Italy – LCBO 111641 … (April 1, 2020)
A great value reserve wine for those looking to scratch their Chianti itch: supple yet smoky with blackberry and black cherry notes plus a hint of vanilla and delicate spice. If you like fruit forward Chianti this is your wine.  (*** ½)


Loios 2018 RedLoios Red
$9.50 – Portugal – LCBO 89912 … (General List)
This is not “fine wine” by any stretch of the imagination, but it is what you need now – it’s quaffable and affordable, has a good fruit profile: cassis, blackberry, black cherry and it’s balanced. Is it the best wine you’ll ever have? No – but it’s one you’ll be happy to drink and happy to serve … and the price is a bonus.  (*** ½)

Loios 2018 White
$9.50 – Portugal – LCBO 92114 … (General List)
This patio ready white has a lovely citrus hit with good acidity on the finish … it’s all lemon zest and melon notes and you won’t find a better value (that over delivers) for your next visit to the backyard during the summer heat.  (*** ½)

Quinta da Aveleda 2019 Loureiro & Alvarinho Vinho VerdeAveleda Vinho Verde
$12.60 – Portugal – LCBO 89995 … (General List)
68% Loureiro and 32% Alvarinho, with 4 and a half months on lees … this Vinho Verde is bright and fresh and fruity and such a delight; we all need Vinho Verde like this in the summer. It has lovely freshness like green apple, lime and floral notes (and that’s just the nose); the palate and finish continue this “liveliness” and freshness and there’s a pith-like note to keep it all from pushing into the realm of sweet. Hello patio sipper.  (*** ½+)

Sand Point 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
$16.95 – California – LCBO 11193 … (General List)
Soft and supple, easy and even a tad “sweet” of red fruit, with tea leaves and cherry also settling in on the palate.  (***+)

Villa Sandi Il Fresco Presecco Treviso
$15.95 – Italy – LCBO 394387 … (General List)
Pleasant and slightly biscuity, but mostly it’s all about the almond, lemon and apple here.  (***+)


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